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    Dividing Up Lewin's Morgengruss?

    Hello everyone!

    Some musicology students at Princeton are getting together over the summer to read David Lewin's Morgengruss. As the essay is not divided into chapters, I'm looking for advice on how to chop up the text into sensible bits. We will be reading the text over five weeks or so (with the sixth week likely dedicated to some of the essays in the back of the text). So if you had to divide the book into five units, how would you do so?

    As of now, I think reading up to page 21 (the Preface and Lewin's discussion of the poetic text) coupled with our own reactions to the Lied would make a good week 1. But past that, I'm open to ideas!

    Thanks so much!
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    • 3 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
    • For what it's worth, I personally have two big questions about DL's Essay:

      [1] On the one hand, the essay seems to be an astute analysis of the music, and to some degree it enhances my understanding of the music. On the other hand, the essay seems to be far-removed from how I actually experience the music. So what is going on here? Is DL effectively analyzing only a small aspect of the music? Is DL's experience of the music distorted? Or is mine?

      [2] Consider these sentences from the essay (many other passages like it):

      Instead, measure 12 pulls the rug out from under b♮, baldly substituting b♭ instead. Not only does   this contradict our expectation, it does so in the most apparently perverse fashion: we expect the b to move up a half-step; instead it moves down a half-step.

      In these sentences, Lewin is pointing at a small sequence of notes from the music. And then he makes some statements about this sequence ("pulling the rug out from under", "apparently perverse", ...) How are we to understand statements like this? What is the "backup" or "support", or is any needed, or is this an inappropriate question?

      Taking a step back: When DL is doing close analysis like the above, what kind of model or procedure is he utilizing?



      Isaac Malitz, Ph.D.




    • @IsaacMalitz. An interesting question, Isaac, but I am not sure it is one of the "model" utilized. This analysis by Lewin really is quite a unique case...

      I think, however, that one of its characteristics (despite his own claims) is that it is an "autonomous" analysis, "a pure analysis by a pure specialist of analysis", to quote a text by Jean Molino in preparation of the first European conference on music analysis, in 1989.

      Lewin declares some concern for his readers, on the one hand, undergraduate students and amateurs, and for the composer's intentions, on the other hand. He is very much concerned with conceiving his analysis as a discourse, as a piece of rhetoric intended to convince an audience. But he is not empirically concerned with the actual reception of the music by this audience – unless to the extent that his discourse can modify their hearing of the piece.

      While he is very much interested in the poem, he names the poet only once (p. 49 of the Bard-Schwarz and Cohn's edition); and when at times he mentions "the poet", he really means "the poem". He discusses how "the piece" (not Schubert!) projects simplicity, etc. And when he mentions Schubert, he often means "the piece" (for instance when he states that "Schubert did not automatically reach for the musical form which would set the text comfortably", p. 28; or "Schubert highlights the Bb by the shift in accompaniment texture", p. 41; etc.).

      Even although his intended readers apparently are novices in music, he never says a word about who Schubert or Müller where, not about what Die schöne Mullerin is, nor about the social status of early-19th-century Lied, nor about whether the voice was to be a male or a female one, etc. His only concern is the score, from which he derives all aspects of his analysis.

      This, I think, is more than merely a common situation in 1974, before Kerman's Contemplating Music (and the subsequent development of New Musicology). It is a stance (a model, if you want) taken by Lewin because he believed that this is music analysis properly speaking. And I trust that this is the very reason why his Morgengruß is calling for renewed attention today. This is "pure analysis". It corresponds to his own description of analysis in "Behind the Beyond" (Perspectives of New Music 7/2, 1969).

      There hardly existed a model for such a stance in 1974, and there may not be many since. I am not sure about all details of this particular analysis, but the approach that it evidences (if not the rhetoric or the kind of discourse it provides) may be a valid model for music analysis today.



    • 'If we demand that all music that we examine be on the aesthetic level of the great tonal masterworks, and that all the theoretical  equipment we invoke be at the level of sophistication and power that tonal theory has achieved after two and a half centuries of intense development, we will not get very far in coming to terms with the music of our recent past.' ––David  Lewin. 'Stockhausen's Klavierstuck III' in Musical Form and Transformation: Four Analytic Essays.

      When are we going to get off the dime?